Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Elements of User Experience (I)

Started a new book, The Elements of User Experience. The author has a great framework for how to think about designing a website.

First, he asserts that there are 2 ways to think about the web: (1) as a software interface, (2) as a hypertext system. With software interface, the designer is concerned mostly with tasks. We can consider the website as a tool or set of tools that the user employs to accomplish one or more tasks. For example, search/browse, upload a file, etc. With the hypertext model, the designer is concerned with information. What information or content does the site offer, and what does it mean to its users?

You can then break down the website design into discrete levels, including:

  • Strategy
  • Scope
  • Structure
  • Skeleton
  • Surface

WRT strategy, there are 2 elements that span both views of the website as a SW interface as well as a hypertext system:

  1. User needs: goals for the site that come from users
  2. Site objectives: our own objectives for the site

WRT scope, there are functional specifications for the SW interface view, and content requirements for the hypertext view.

WRT structure, interaction design defines how the system behaves in response to a user (SW interface view). Information architecture is the arrangement of content elements within the information space (hypertext view).

WRT skeleton, information design affects the presentaion of information in a way that indicates understanding (applies to both SW interface, and hypertest views). Interface design arranges the interface elements to enable users to interact with the functionality of the system. The interface for an information space is its navigation design.

Finally, the surface, which is concerned mostly with visual design, or the look of the finished product.

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